Thursday, November 17, 2011

To: Newt – From: An Unemployment Compensation Bum

Although Newt Gingrich is currently one of those at the top of my list of favored Presidential candidates, I want to take exception to one point that the former Speaker has been stressing in his campaign. Relative to reforming the Unemployment Compensation System, Gingrich has consistently been saying, “It is fundamentally wrong to give people money for 99 weeks for doing nothing.” I think there is an implication central to this statement that is inappropriate and counterproductive.

I agree with Speaker Gingrich that our Unemployment Compensation System is in dire need of reform. And, more specifically, I agree with him that the 25 million Americans who are presently unemployed or underemployed are depending on a system that is costly but does not actually help them get a job. Furthermore, I agree with Gingrich that ninety-nine weeks is too long for any American to be dependent on the government. But, as one who, in the not-too-distant-past, was among the ranks of those depending on that system, I can tell you, the implication that these 25 million Americans are being “give(n) money … for doing nothing” is dead wrong. To illustrate this, let me share some excerpts from an article I wrote this past summer, entitled Meeting the Challenge of Senior Underemployment – One of Our Greatest Socioeconomic Opportunities. It begins with the story I know best … my own.

We moved to Southwest Washington in mid-2005. What I brought to the table was a professional background of 30+ years in Sales and Sales Management, with technology-based business-to-business systems-solutions. Our employment plan was for me to find a “mid-level” job. My Wife, who had been in charge of the administrative staff of a Public Defender’s Office, was only going to work as she wanted to. The way things actually worked out is:

We’ve been in Southwest Washington for about 76 months now. During that time, I’ve had four periods when I was “between jobs”. Especially considering my previous work history, it still astonishes me to note that those periods cover a total of 30 months. Though I won’t bore you with the related stats, without hesitation, I can say that I spent every day of these periods tirelessly leaving no stone unturned in my efforts to secure a job. The yield of those efforts included: a phenomenal number of interviews (with a remarkably high percentage of those having me included in the final round of candidates) and the five jobs I’ve taken. Additionally, due to my employment challenges and the erosion of the investments at the core of our “nest egg”, after a little over two years of “retirement”, we agreed that it was a good idea for Ruth to return to work.

As “I spent every day of (my ‘between jobs’) periods tirelessly leaving no stone unturned in my efforts to secure a job”, one key aspect of my efforts was to network my socks off. In doing this, I became well acquainted with many who were having unemployment/underemployment experiences similar to mine.

Key takeaways from these anecdotes include:

- Though I come from a generation that finds the thought of taking Unemployment Compensation to be repugnant, I and the others I met along the way found it necessary to turn to this system during our extended periods “between jobs”. It made the difference in being able to make ends meet and to not have to watch the eroded “nest eggs” vanish altogether. I think those are purposes that this system, which we all had paid into faithfully for decades, is supposed to serve.

- The fact that I and the many I met along the way who were having unemployment/ underemployment experiences similar to mine spent every day of our “between jobs” periods tirelessly leaving no stone unturned in our efforts to secure a job”, serves as proof that, while we found it necessary to turn to Unemployment Compensation, we found it unacceptable to abuse the system. This fact should also provide clear illustration of why I find the implication of Speaker Gingrich’s position on this to be inappropriate and counterproductive.

As I said earlier, I agree with Speaker Gingrich that our Unemployment Compensation System is in dire need of reform. However, his statement that “It is fundamentally wrong to give people money … for doing nothing” focuses on the victims of our flawed Unemployment Compensation System and not the broken system itself. In doing this, Presidential Candidate Gingrich comes off a lot like President Obama, when he says; we’ve been “lazy”. Mr. Speaker and Mr. President, we aren’t lazy. In fact, we are as industrious and hard working as ever. We just need you to set our nation’s policies to make it more likely for our efforts to bear fruit.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Obama’s 'Throwing Voters Under The Bus' Tour

Yesterday, a Twitter friend alerted me to the now-well known Gallup Daily, indicating that President Obama’s approval rating had dropped to 39%. My tweet in response said, “When I see 39% still actually say they approve of Obama's presidency, it depresses me.” Since then, I’ve reached an even lower state of despair as I’ve observed the related political activity coming from the Whitehouse, as well as from the Democrat Leadership in both houses of Congress. I know there’s only one way these folks are ever going to “get it”, if they ever do, but their total self-absorption and their complete disconnection with the overriding demeanor of our nation continues to baffle me.

To illustrate this, let’s begin by taking a look at Obama’s current bus tour in the upper Midwest. The Romney campaign has dubbed this the “Magical Misery Tour.” The RNC has nicknamed it the “Obama Debt-End Tour.” Regardless of what it’s called, many have lamented that, “Here we are, over three years after Obama was on his way to being elected President by promising Hope and Change and he’s just now getting out there in an effort to learn what it was that voters were hoping for.” Sadly, the truth is that this episode of “The Campaigner in Chief” has nothing to do with discovering what the American people want. If you listen to the words and watch the actions actually coming from this political outing, it’s obvious that Obama and his team continue to be convinced of their Devine Right, as America’s Royalty … they’re out there to tell voters what they should have been hoping for.

Of course, what the Romney campaign calls the “Magical Misery Tour” is just the latest example of how out of touch the current far-Left version of the Democrat Party is with the reality of the prevailing views of the American public. Leading up to this bus-based excursion, Obama’s chief political strategist, David Axelrod, has been in the pulpit of the mainstream media, preaching about our country’s “Tea Party Credit Rating Downgrade.” This, in the face of clear evidence that the Tea Party is almost exclusively responsible for the fact that fiscal accountability has been made a top priority for the U.S. Government. And, Axelrod's sermon (echoed by numerous other Liberal Leaders) was the next level of spin development embodied in the endless repetition of the DNC’s "Millionaires and Billionaires" talking point. That continues in spite of the fact that it requires a complete suspension of reality, accepting the belief that Conservatives wake up every morning thinking, "What can I do today that will make life better for America's Millionaires and Billionaires?!"

Though I'm discouraged by the ongoing tyrannical attitude of today's Democrat Party and I don't understand their insistence on continuing in that manner, there is a way for them to "get it." But, as I said earlier, I know there's only one way for that to happen. Stating how that will happen will be my mantra through the General Elections of 2012. Until that long-awaited event, my repeated message to Tax and Spend Big Government Democrats will be:

“You’re misunderstanding the low approvals indicated by polls for the Whitehouse and for Congress. Those polls indicate that voters aren’t happy with those institutions ... YET. Those same approval ratings will be climbing, election by election, as we send more and more of your type home.”


Millionaires and Billionaires

Submitted by Mike M Boyer on Tue, 2011-08-16 06:10.

The Fabian Socialists are still trying to remold the world closer to their hearts desire by fanning the flames of class warfare.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Empty Boots, Not Empty Suits, at Iowa GOP Presidential Debate

On one of his recent shows, Conservative Radio Talk Show Host, Hugh Hewitt, was rejoicing in observing how similar today’s political circumstances are to those of 1979, during the Carter Administration. According to Hewitt, he did so because he is certain that the present conditions will lead to a “reinvigorated … American renaissance of power and influence”, as it did under the Reagan Administration, from 1981 to 1989. I’m certainly in favor of seeing that happen so, as a member of the Twitter group that Hewitt calls “The Tribbles”, I was able to indicate my support by tweeting “Preach it, Brother @HughHewitt!” As I did, though, I was thinking, “There’s a key ingredient missing here … Ronald Reagan.”

Our nation was blessed to have had President Reagan but a great leader of his stature, typically, only comes along once in a lifetime. I would welcome seeing someone emerge as an exception to this but; so far, I don’t see anyone who could fill Reagan’s boots. While I would apply this statement to the eight participants in Thursday evening’s GOP Presidential Debate in Iowa, I would also say, as a group, they showed themselves to be anything but empty suits. Unlike we do with the current Democrat Party Leadership (as represented by Obama, Axelrod, Geithner, Kerry, Reid, Durbin, Pelosi, Rangel, Clyburn, etc.), we didn’t hear the relentless drumbeat of party talking points and attacks on voters who want to resurrect our great nation. To those Democrats, I’d say, “You’re misunderstanding the low approvals indicated by polls for the Whitehouse and for Congress. Those polls indicate that voters aren’t happy with those institutions … yet. Election by election, as we send more and more of your type home, approval ratings will be going up.” By contrast, what we did get from the announced Republican Presidential Candidates Thursday night was what Moderator, Bret Baier, asked for – i.e. for talking points to be left behind. Instead, what we heard from this group were pretty unvarnished observations about how to get our country back on a positive footing, along with how their ideas differ from the sitting Administration and their Republican rivals.

One candidate, who I thought did quite well in Thursday evening’s debate, was Newt Gingrich. It was good to see him, finally, sort of step out of the shadows in this campaign. Perhaps his strongest statement was one aimed at putting the press (in the person of Chris Wallace) in its place, when he chastised Wallace for “playing Mickey Mouse games” with “Gotcha questions.” Later, he tried the same gambit with Bret Baier. This latter attempt didn’t strike me as seeming justified and I thought it was a clear indication of why Gingrich doesn’t measure up to Reagan. He is a very intelligent man but he often shows that he doesn’t always use good sense. With that said, I thought he did an excellent job of thoroughly addressing all the questions that came his way. My personal favorite was when he called the Federal Deficit Super Committee the “dumbest idea” he’s heard of and he stated that this is a job for the entirety of Congress.

Of course, the sparring between Congresswoman Michele Bachman and former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty was entertaining. Frankly, I’d tune in to that if it was a TV series. However, I think they both showed more indications of how they fall short of Reagan, as a standard, rather than showing how they could follow in his footsteps. In Bachman’s case, she seemed more like another career politician with her ongoing chant about making Barack Obama “a one-term President” and with her defensiveness about taking rigid positions that have not produced results. Likewise, I thought Pawlenty came off as a career politician, with the difference being that he seemed mean.

Former Senator Rick Santorum didn’t seem to get as much exposure as some of the other candidates. I thought his complaint about that had some legitimacy. However, I didn’t think he made good use of what visibility he did get. He seemed to use most of the time he got to denigrate his opponents. I never find this breaking of what President Reagan called “The Eleventh Commandment” to be appealing.

As per usual, Congressman Ron Paul seemed to have the most vocal supporters in the audience. And, once again, he and his supporters, to quote the tweet of a fellow-Tribble, “came off as nuts.” I don’t know many Ron Paul supporters well but I do know one supporter who is a fellow Tea Party member and quite a nice lady so, for her sake, I’m very uncomfortable in saying this.

The “front-runner” going in to this debate was former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. I think he remained in that position coming out of the debate too. Mostly, I thought he did a good job of dispelling a press “gotcha comment” that, up to now, he has seemed to be in a “Mittness protection program.” He was very clear and thorough in outlining the seven steps he sees as needed for resurrecting the U.S. economy. And, I thought he did a fine job of illustrating how, both in the private sector and the public sector, he has provided the sort of leadership to get these jobs done. Furthermore, he plainly stated that, by contrast, President Obama is “out of his depth” in this regard.

I have to admit that former business CEO, Herman Cain, is a sentimental favorite with me. The positions he’s taken on the issues are well aligned with mine and I like the down-to-earth way he states his positions. However, he has regularly let his openness get him into trouble. And, his “willingness to learn” on foreign relations leaves many wondering if he would suffer from the same “What will he do when the phone rings at 3:00 in the morning?” weakness that Barack Obama has shown.

Finally, there’s former Utah Governor, Jon Huntsman. Out of the candidates participating in Thursday night’s debate, he is the most recent to enter the race. Although I found that several issues he addressed in the debate (securing the border, understanding foreign relations, locally determined education reform, etc.) line up with my views, he did seem like another career politician who is new to the race.

Beyond the GOP Presidential Debate in Iowa, there has been significant interest in the likelihood that Rick Perry will enter the race. As Governor of Texas, I’m betting he owns a pair of boots. Maybe he will prove himself to be somewhat “Reaganesque.” Or, perhaps, one or more other candidates will emerge, who seem to fill that bill. But, as I said before, “so far, I don’t see anyone who could fill Reagan’s boots.” With that said, I did feel that Thursday night’s debate demonstrated another comment I’ve made previously – i.e. There are several Republican Presidential Candidates who are head-and-shoulders above Barack Obama, in terms of being qualified for the job of President. My hope has been, in the process of selecting from this field of candidates, we won’t end up with McCain II. Based on what I saw in the Iowa GOP Presidential Debate, I’m more comfortable with either Newt Gingrich or Mitt Romney, in that regard.


The battle begins

Submitted by Brittanicus (not verified) on Sat, 2011-08-13 09:45.


+-Only one candidate for the White House will stop the bleeding of billions of dollars annually, by illegal foreigners who have taken advantage of the American people? Even Ron Paul in his book, is hesitating on bringing the full power of the law, to halt in its tracks another terrible immigration Reform package; but not so lady Michele Bachmann. Perhaps this is why Rep. Michele Bachmann exempted from being asked questions on illegal immigration? Her stance on this issue is far above the rest who stood behind their dais in Ames, Iowa? Was this leaving Bachman out of this social issue premeditated? Whether this was the case or not, she strands strong as this uncontrolled illegal immigration invader problem has been ignored by administrations for years. Bachmann will not tolerate any form of Amnesty as President. Every Sanctuary City and state that does not comply by cutting of these ordinances will lose federal funding. It’s been said many times before, that American cannot afford to subsidize Mexico, Central America, Europe, Pacific Rim or other nation; its inhabitants impoverished and desperate illegal immigrants anymore? This illogical problem is crippling America’s economy by the massive payouts for families, which have migrated illegally across our sovereign border.

The TEA PARTY has become an immense grassroots movement of tens of millions of one- mind Americans from all racial and religious backgrounds, political parties, no matter what the adverse pundits say? The TEA PARTY members share the focused philosophy of limited government, individual freedoms, personal responsibility, "fair" free markets and above all else returning power to the States and the people. The TEA PARTY is about reforming all political parties and control, so the key principles of our Constitution, once again is the foundation of which this nation stands.

Of course open border disciples, business lobbyist will deny the obvious, that this illegal incursion is drowning us in debt—with no end in sight. (FAIR) American Federation of Immigration Reform that of 2009, reported that overall costs to subsidize the illegal alien household was calculated through, federal, State, County and Municipal sources that it was a $113 Billion dollar problem. Federation for American Immigration Reform issued a report in which they estimate the total annual costs of illegal immigration at the federal, state and local level is estimated to be $113 billion combined. The states are bearing the burden of the costs; while the government share is nearly $29 billion, it escalates to $84.2 billion at the state and local level. The annual outlay that illegal aliens cost U.S. taxpayers is an average amount per native-headed household of $1,117. The state-by-state breakdown begins on page 4 of this report at:

Education for the children of illegal migrants and immigrants constitutes the sole largest outlay to taxpayers, at an annual price tag of nearly $52 billion. Virtually all of those expenses are absorbed by state and local governments. At the federal level, only about one-third of outlays are matched by tax collections from illegal aliens. At the state and local level, an average of less than 5 percent of the public costs is allied with the illegal immigration occupation and recouped through taxes collected from illegal nationals. Nearly all illegal aliens do not pay income taxes; only those who do, much of the revenues collected are refunded to the illegal immigrants when they file tax returns. Many are also claiming tax credits resultant in payments from the U.S. Treasury. Please note this is not a static expenditure, but these dollars amounts are raising all the time.

Ask yourself, why the Grand Canyon State of Arizona had not choice, but to clamp down against the massive dollar amounts spent to appease illegal alien homesteads How can a small South Western state that is mostly desert, afford to pay out $2 Billion dollars annually for foreigners? Then again-- how can Leftist legislators in Sacramento, California, justify taking taxpayer’s money and giving it to illegal aliens when these persons truly don't exist, other than in ICE enforcement records or Homeland Security? HAS ANY READER THOUGHT OF CHECKING THEIR STATES PAYOUT TO FOREIGN NATIONALS? Although they come here through the magnet of jobs, welfare and each year bring their children. The estimates of 300.000 babies enter via a broken, intermittent border fence, that can no-way be fully enforced without the deployment of troops. Instant citizen for babies is above most payments, is an incredulous cost forced on taxpayers by Liberal judges legislating from their gavel.

Because entering America without papers is not a—FELONY—it is essentially a giant hole in the wall, which imports not only millions of illegal aliens, but a massive population of criminals; bringing death, mayhem and ID theft on the unsuspecting citizens and residents. As I said in my commentary yesterday, the only way to sever the incentive of jobs (which I never thought I would admit) is issuing every citizen and legal resident a government ID CARD. This could be used to get employed US workers. (8 million illegal aliens have stolen jobs from mostly low income Americans according to reputable sources.) The same official ID card could be presented for voting; instead of the mess we have now, with convicted felons, deceased and illegal aliens, fraudulently using the election process to alter an elections direction.

You would also use this federal ID CARD to be checked against other data bases, official birth records to see if you have the right to be issued a driver’s license, vehicle insurance, welfare or other Public entitlements. I shouldn't gloat over the welfare payouts in California, but it is a self inflicted wound caused by the Liberals in the capitol. California, the Godfather of Sanctuary State has a $19 Billion dollar budget gap, with a staggering cost of $21 Billion $ according to the National Conference of State Legislators in 2009. We must wonder how the welfare costs have escalated in two years in the once Golden State?


No Copyright. Distribute Freely.

From Rab L Rouser via email

Submitted by Gary Wiram on Sun, 2011-08-14 14:25.


+-I was going to compliment you an a nice article and point out that, as Michael Reagan points out in his book ‘The New Reagan Revolution’ (on pages 66-67) ;

“Gerald Ford was a flawed candidate, as was John McCain. But I’ll let you in on a secret: We’re not going to find a perfect candidate. Ronald Reagan was not perfect. He was not 100% pure. He was a great man, but he had his flaws. Despite all that he accomplished Ronald Reagan couldn’t win the GOP nomination today.

If Ronald Reagan were running for president today, where would the opposition come from? From the left? No, from the right! Ronald Reagan would not be considered ideologically pure enough to be the standard-bearer of the party.

Conservatives revere Ronald Reagan as the patron saing ot the GOP– and rightly so. But if conservatives in 1980 had applied the same standards to Ronald Reagan that they apply to Joyhn McCain, we might never have had the economic recovery of the 1980′s of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Ronald Reagan caaomplished what he did because he saw the big picture. He waved a bnner of bold, unmistakable colors, with no pale pastel shades. He wasn’t a perfect man, but he was a good man–

And a great leader.

I didn’t bother to watch the debate. I have learned that words used at these events are just lies intended to hornswaggle voters into lending their support toward the candidate most to their liking.

I sit back and wait for my intelligent friends to post on trustworty publications such as Red State and then benefit from their sage judgement.

Thank you for your tireless devotion to liberty my friend.


Submitted by Jon R (not verified) on Sun, 2011-08-14 20:04.


+-If a political candidate has to compare himself to Reagan; Chances are he is not anything like Reagan. It annoys me to know end to hear Presidential candidates say things like, I am Reagan Republican or What would Reagan do?

You know what candidate? Reagan was a leader. Reagan didn't compare himself to other people. Reagan saw himself as a leader of a movement. Be that person, don't say your like that person.

From @strongthought via Twitter

Submitted by Gary Wiram on Mon, 2011-08-15 05:47.


+-If we had ‘internet scrutiny’ in 1979 we would be critical of Reagan too. There is a Reagan in that pack of candidates. There is.

From @tamij via Twitter

Submitted by Gary Wiram on Mon, 2011-08-15 05:50.


+-Nice Gary!

From Michael Beck via email

Submitted by Gary Wiram on Mon, 2011-08-15 05:52.


+-Great analysis big Gary. I think correct analysis. This next election, Obama will be in over his head in debating the GOP candidate, just like he is in over his head in running the country. Ron Paul is a total idiot. To think that Iran with a nuclear weapon poses no threat is kooksville.

From Joel Turvey via email

Submitted by Gary Wiram on Mon, 2011-08-15 05:54.



I enjoyed your post very much. You put your finger on what is missing in the Republican presidential primary contest. Having said that, I feel hopeful after watching the last 2 debates. Any one of these candidates (with the exception of Ron Paul) would be better than President Obama. All seem committed to encouraging free enterprise and reversing Obama’s policies, especially Obamacare. They are articulate and forceful. And who knows, like @strongthought observed, maybe a Reagan will eventually emerge from this field, especially with the addition of Rick Perry.

My sentimental favorite is Michele Bachmann. She may seem rigid, but she was uncompromising in opposition to raising the debt ceiling, and she has fought against the administration’s positions, despite Pawlenty’s petty comments. She walks the walk on the pro-life issue.

Keep up your good work.

From a fellow Northwest conservative,

Joel Turvey (@joelmt)

From team_Excalibur via email

Submitted by Gary Wiram on Mon, 2011-08-15 06:03.


+-I have to admit that the “political machine” of either party is not producing a believable candidate I would strongly back and vote for in 2012. Every “hard-line party”, rich politician currently in Congress thinks that the existing two-party system with support from dependent, high-density urban area voters will either save them in the coming elections or replace them with a party clone that holds the “status quo”. It’s ironic that many of the nation’s young voters and “poor” vote for Congressional candidates that are from a very rich and arrogant sector of our society. Why should anyone of the right stuff that we need to replace the Congress or the President in office need to pay millions to promote themselves as a viable candidate and participate as a candidate in a preliminary campaign event??? The whole system is broken! We need real leadership, not accusations and vague political promises! Obamacare is not about medical care improvement, it’s about expanded federal government control of the middle class populous and weakening of the Constitutional rights of every American.

The Democrats are primarily funded by big business interests (those same corporations who don’t pay their fair share of taxes and outsource our critical balance of trade jobs to our national debt “lenders”) and fully supported by new white-collar state government unions in almost all states with very large cities on both coasts. We are headed for a direct political conflict between suburban folks with angered patriotic seniors who paid their “entitlement” taxes the Democrats established over the last 60+ years and progressive liberal socialists and communists headquartered in all of America’s big cities. A dictator will emerge (if he hasn’t already been voted in by the “sheeple” who depend on the current course of federal government-initiated entitlement programs and taxation.) We are under economic attack and still giving borrowed money away to other counties in the world for favors. Meanwhile, Congress just keeps rearranging the deck chairs on the American, National Debt-ridden Titanic…

Sunday, August 7, 2011

President Obama: To Employ More Veterans, Get Big Government Out of Their Way!


In a speech Friday, at the Washington Navy Yard, President Obama overviewed his administration’s new initiative meant to help those serving in the military find employment following their service. The program announced was in response to a report regarding the unemployment rate for Iraq and Afghanistan-era veterans. Although the unemployment rate for all veterans stands at 8.6 % (lower than the nation’s overall unemployment rate of 9.1 %), the current unemployment rate for Iraq and Afghanistan-era veterans is 12.4 %. That is an increase over the 11.8 % rate reported for this group a year ago.

As could be expected, with the Navy Yard as a backdrop and surrounded by military personnel, a speech on this topic was well received. Regardless of the setting and the audience, I see this as a topic deserving of positive interest from us all. When our heroes, who offer themselves for military service on our behalf, return from that service to civilian life, I want to see them welcomed on a level playing field and given a head start I believe they’ve earned. Obviously, based on the unemployment rates being reported, our Iraq and Afghanistan-era heroes are experiencing a welcome that is opposite of what I’d like for them to be getting.

President Obama’s plan here consists of two key elements: (1) He is asking Congress to legislate new tax breaks intended to encourage employers to give a hiring edge to veterans. (2) He has ordered the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments to form a new task force, to develop a plan aimed at helping veterans secure post-service employment.

Although I commend the President for having his heart in the right place on this, I don’t think his is the right solution. It’s amazing to me that, even in the face of the abundantly obvious abject failure we’re experiencing with his dogma, President Obama remains an undying big government ideologue. Much as was the case with this approach during the Carter administration, Obama and his fellow-zealots have formulated a scheme for tinkering with the symptoms of this matter rather than diagnosing its cause and prescribing corrective treatment.

In considering this problem and its likely source, I couldn’t help but notice its similarities to another dilemma I wrote about not long ago, in an article entitled Meeting the Challenge of Senior Underemployment – One of Our Greatest Socioeconomic Opportunities. This writing addresses the difficulty being faced by another group of veterans … Seniors who are veterans of business.

When I wrote that article, the U.S. unemployment rate was 9.3%. At that time, the unemployment rate for Seniors (people aged 55 and over) was 6.7%. Initially, that made it sound like older workers were doing better than the general population. However, since the recession began in December of 2007, the unemployment rate for Seniors had increased by a factor of 2.09, while unemployment in the general population increased by a factor of 1.86. Furthermore, the average duration of unemployment for Seniors was 53.6 weeks (more than one year) versus 39.4 weeks for the younger unemployed.

In addition to the similarities between these two groups of veterans, with unemployment, they share corresponding experiences with underemployment. I believe related accounts of this tell us as much as, if not more than, unemployment tells us about the underlying cause of the overall problem here and its likely source.

The following are a few anecdotes, to exemplify this predicament for our Iraq and Afghanistan-era military veterans:

“After almost two years in New York looking for work in law enforcement, Iraq veteran Christopher Kurz just moved back in with his parents in Arizona. His military police work in Iraq and aboard a nuclear aircraft carrier didn't seem to translate into a job.”

“Staff Sgt. Meghan Meade, 27, of East Moriches, N.Y., said her lack of a bachelor's degree also seems to have kept her from getting a full-time job, even doing administrative work. A member of the New York Air National Guard, she said she's spent five years on active duty and did a tour in Iraq. She has an associate's degree, but she's reluctant to go back to school because she's not sure exactly what to study. She's waiting tables and doing temporary clerical work.”

“Hugh Conlon, from Augusta, Georgia, who served in the Army for 20 years as a Sergeant First Class. He served three combat tours as a medic, most recently as a Senior Medical non-commissioned officer for an Iraqi National Police Brigade in Iraq. Despite his extensive experience as a medic in combat zones, Hugh was unable to find a job in the medical field when he left the Army. He was turned down for positions ranging from driving an ambulance to admitting patients to the hospital.”

Although this group of veterans may not hear these things directly from prospective employers, typical reasons that come back to them about why they’ve been passed over include: The prospective employers’ failure to connect the responsibilities of their military duty to civilian job requirements, concerns that veterans might have mental health issues and with Guard and Reserve troops, worry that they will deploy again.

To illustrate the corresponding quandary with the other group, Seniors who are veterans of business, here are a few stories out of the many like this that I’m personally aquainted with:

“A President and CEO of a telecom company. For nearly two years he was “between jobs” but got one six-month consulting gig. Now he is employed as a Senior Operations Manger with a nonprofit.”

“A VP of Worldwide Sales for a software developer. The five years since she left that position have held a VP-level job with a marketing research firm, a VP-level job with a nonprofit, a couple of advisory/consulting gigs and significant periods ‘between jobs’.”

“A CFO-level person who had been working abroad. He moved back home to be with an ailing parent who has, since, passed away. During over three years ‘back home’, he managed to get only two months of consulting work. He has returned to a financial role, working abroad, for a U.S. Government agency.”

“A President of an apparel manufacturer. After two years of unemployment he accepted a position as VP of Operations for a heavy equipment dealer. That job lasted 1 ½ years. He has returned to consulting, as he looks for his next opportunity.”

Here, again, this group doesn’t necessarily get direct feedback from prospective employers about why they have been passed over but the rationale seems to include: The hiring company viewing the candidates age as a negative rather than valuing the experience that comes with the age, concerns that these veterans may lack energy/enthusiasm and apprehension that they may just be looking for a place to ‘coast’ to their imminent retirement.”

So, what does all this indicate? Does it mean that I think Seniors should be getting the same sort of government supported jobs program that the President is proposing for our Iraq and Afghanistan-era military veterans? Well, as temptingly self-serving as it would be for me to say “Yes”, I have to say “No”. Does it mean that I’m opposed to seeing our Iraq and Afghanistan-era military veterans get the help the President is proposing? No. I agree with Hugh Conlon when he says, “That’s no way for America to support the troops”, regarding the unemployment/underemployment experience we’re presently giving Vets like him. Do I think that what the President is proposing is more of a band-aid than corrective surgery? Yes!

If you just listen to what both sets of veterans are being told about why they’re being passed over for employment, you hear evidence of the need for a paradigm shift, not tinkering. Whether it’s failure to connect the responsibilities of their military duty to civilian job requirements, concerns that veterans might have mental health issues and worry that they will deploy again (for military veterans) or it’s viewing the candidates age as a negative rather than valuing the experience that comes with the age, concerns that these folks may lack energy/enthusiasm and apprehension that they may just be looking for a place to ‘coast’ to their imminent retirement (for business veterans); these are the results of businesses looking for reasons not to hire. This is what you find when the business environment has been stifled by ever-increasing regulation and taxation accompanied by government spending exceeding the wildest imaginations. On the other hand, when these factors are reversed, business thrives and you find employers looking for reasons to hire people - i.e. They look for ways to match up the skills a military veteran gains from their service or the experience a business veteran aquires from their career with fitting jobs that need doing in a booming economy. This is the paradigm shift that is called for.

In closing, I want to emphasize that accomplishing this paradigm shift for the two groups of veterans I’ve mentioned here is critical to the socioeconomic future of our nation. To a great degree, today’s Seniors are made up of Baby Boomers. This generation was lavished, more than any other, with education. Moreover, they were raised by the GI Generation, who instilled them with a great work ethic. That meant, not only did they get a great education, they actually went out and tried to accomplish everything they could with that resource and in the process, grew the resource by honing it with experience to create what I call “A Great Wealth of Wisdom.” Sadly, this invaluable resource is going to die with the Baby Boom generation, if we don’t put them to work, ideally in mentoring roles with the best of our younger generations. What better candidates for this latter group than our Iraq and Afghanistan-era heroes? By combining and unleashing these immediately available resources, we can reinvent the socioeconomic environment of a true Super Power. But, this won’t result from tinkering. It will require systemic corrective action.

Very good, well reasoned

Submitted by Big Mike (not verified) on Sun, 2011-08-07 11:19.


+-Very good, well reasoned article, Gary. Thanks!

Your Comment

Submitted by Gary Wiram on Mon, 2011-08-08 07:59.


+-Thanks, Big Mike!

Via Facebook

Submitted by Gary Wiram on Sun, 2011-08-07 12:54.


+-Larry J. Smith Good thing. We owe them jobs for their contributions and dedication.

Your Comment

Submitted by Gary Wiram on Mon, 2011-08-08 08:02.


+-I fully agree, Larry.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Much Heat, Little Light

The result of the end of "the crisis that Washington imposed on the rest of America"? ... Politics as usual!

Monday evening, by a vote of 269-161, the U.S. Congress passed the Budget Control Act of 2011 … a/k/a the bipartisan agreement to address the debt crisis. According to an AP report on this, “A final Senate sign-off for the measure is virtually assured on Tuesday” and “If the bill were presented to the president, he would sign it.”

Sunday night, President Obama and congressional leaders announced this agreement that, according to another AP article, is a "dramatic resolution" that will "(lift) a cloud that had threatened the still-fragile economic recovery." In that same article, the President is quoted as saying, "(The deal) will allow us to avoid default and end the crisis that Washington imposed on the rest of America". One can only hope that he was looking in the mirror as he made that statement but I have to admit that the President hit the nail on the head about this being a "crisis that Washington imposed on the rest of America". Sadly, it appears that, after putting the American public through this stressful time, our elected federal officials have only accomplished a continuation of "politics as usual". And, in my mind, it's just the sort of political outcome that's in Barack Obama's "wheelhouse" - i.e. Continuing to dangle "Hope" before the nation's people without delivering much in actual "Change".

What This Deal is Aimed to Deliver

Reportedly, this agreement is meant to cut federal spending by $2.2 trillion over the coming decade. Based on the 2011 Federal Budget, the U.S. government plans to spend $38.2 trillion over the next 10 years. While cutting that by $2.2 trillion doesn't seem very significant, that is this deal's overall "best case" scenario. Getting to the $2.2 trillion level requires the most optimistic outcome of sure-to-be highly contentious follow up work by a "super-committee" of legislators. However, the first phase of this proposed legislation will generate around $900 billion in spending cuts over the next decade, while allowing an immediate $900 billion increase in the government's ability to incur debt. So, the "best case" scenario for this deal's first phase actually means Zero change initially, followed by continuing and ever increasing deficit spending. And, the conservative objective to get Congress to pass a balanced-budget amendment, which seemed within easy reach, has been abandoned.

Furthermore, the federal government's ability to borrow more money will now be authorized beyond the 2012 elections. This is being positioned as a relief to the American public, in not having to continue to live under the "cloud" of this "debt crisis", for now, but its true benefit is solely to President Obama, for his reelection aspirations.

Finally, it's being touted that Republicans have achieved a major goal in this agreement through avoiding tax increases. In fact, though, increased tax recommendations are likely to come from the follow up work of the bipartisan "super-committee".

Winners and Losers

As noted above, this "dramatic resolution" claims to result in a number of "Winners". You can, easily, judge those for yourself. However, some have pointed to the Tea Party, as a "Loser" in this deal and I want to address that.

As indicated by the title of this article, I see this "crisis that Washington imposed on the rest of America" as having produced "Much Heat" and "Little Light". Of course, I was hoping for much more in a real debt reduction plan. And, certainly, I'm deeply disappointed to see the loss of momentum towards a balanced budget amendment. However, the general focus of our federal lawmakers has been shifted from continuing ever-increasing spending to striving to learn to live within our means. That is an accomplishment that the Tea Party can proudly take credit for.

Courageously Achieving More

Although the above mentioned shift in the general focus of our federal lawmakers is in line with what voters were looking for in electing a new Congress last Fall, I had hoped those newly focused legislators would not accept this accomplishment as being enough. For many years now, our nation has been sinking in a morass of "politics as usual". The desire to get out of that quagmire was the driving force that brought the sitting Congress into power. More than anything else, the "dramatic resolution"' announced by President Obama and congressional leaders Sunday night, is "politics as usual". Since that is diametrically opposite of the primary impetus that brought these newly focused lawmakers into office, I was disappointed to see many of them (including Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler, who represents the congressional district where I live) support this deal.

Of course, I recognize that what I had hoped for is something that, as folks would say where I was raised in the Midwest, "says easy and does hard". Standing your ground when you’re being hit from all sides on the “debt crisis” with issues like its “cloud” continuing to hang over the American people, its threat to our economy, necessary levels of spending, appropriate levels of debt, its potential impact on Obama’s reelection, its prospective bearing on your own reelection, legitimate needs for taxes/revenues, its impact on job growth, the possibility of passing a balanced budget amendment, countless political pressures, etc.; makes this far from easy. In fact, just the opposite is true; it requires extremely hard work and great courage.

With that said, let me go on to say I understand that the courage required for me to express my views, hiding behind my keyboard, is nothing compared to what I'm asking of those legislators who came into office along with the momentum of the Tea Party. And though I’m disappointed with their not continuing to stand their ground to accomplish even more, that doesn’t mean I’m giving up on them. To the contrary, I’m very proud of the tremendously difficult work they have done and the immense courage they have displayed in doing it. I just want remind them that this is what we were looking for when we voted for them. And, I want to encourage them that the greater level of accomplishment I’d hoped for is, in fact, achievable. For me, the greatest indication of that came from Barack Obama, the antagonist in this episode of “politics as usual”, when he told Eric Cantor, “Don’t call my bluff.” To me, that clearly said, he was bluffing and that his bluff could have been called.

Next time, stand your ground and don’t miss a similar opportunity.


on Bluffing and Ideologues

Submitted by Mike Frome (not verified) on Tue, 2011-08-02 07:28.


+-Hi Gary, I don't believe the president was bluffing, he was merely misusing the language (again). What he meant was "Don't try me because I'm not bluffing". In my view this is because he is an ideologue; a true believer in his closely held (although repeatedly disproved) social and economic theories.

I believe that in his eyes, a failure in congress to act would have been acceptable...he would have done as the extreme progressive wing of his party has been demanding. He would have unilaterally taken the power to set the debt ceiling unto the executive branch, thereby making a complete mockery of congressional budgetary authority for the indefinite future.

To the masses, I believe he would have been able to justify this by making the case "he was the only adult in DC" and "it was in the urgent best interest of the country to act", and I believe that case would have been sufficient for many.

As far as these "cuts" are concerned, a "cut" of a trillion or two into a notional $9T of increases over a decade is another mortal insult to the English language, just on a semantics basis. Never mind the fact that none of those cuts, put off into the indefinite future, are going to happen until they are *again* forced. If our leadership couldn't do anything meaningful now, they are going to be worse than useless in the coming monetary crisis.



Fool we once, then fool me again

Submitted by Lynn Costello (not verified) on Tue, 2011-08-02 14:32.


+-As we've seen from watching the President and democrats today, it is back to business as usual with "investments" in more government and of course an effort to make those millionaires, billionaires and owners of corporate jets pay their fair share. So much for compromise. We wake up realizing once again, we are suckers!

Millionaires & Billionaires

Submitted by Gary Wiram on Tue, 2011-08-02 19:03.


+-Don't you just love knowing that, with the Liberals never-ending repitition of this talking point, there are actually many out there who must think that Conservatives get up every day asking themselves, "What can I do today to make life better for America's Millionaires & Billionaires?!"

Friday, July 22, 2011

Avoiding McCain II

If, like me, you’re praying for the 2012 Presidential Election to result in Barack Obama being a One-Term President, the good news is that the most recent Gallup Poll shows that the "Republican Candidate" (generic) leads Obama 47% to 39%. The bad news is that when you fill in “generic” with any name from the current field of candidates, polls indicate that Obama holds the lead over (or, at least, is tied with) each of these candidates.

Thankfully, for now, most Republicans seem to be trying to cleave to Ronald Reagan’s 11th Commandment … “Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican.” … so their relentless knit-picking of each candidate who comes along seems to have waned. Perhaps that is due to the fact that they recognize what has even been acknowledged by one writer at the Huffington Post – i.e. “The least qualified Republican candidate, stands head and shoulders above the qualificat­ions of the incompeten­t guy we now have in the White House.” Just the same, an aire of unease seems to remain amongst the GOP faithful. I believe the source of this anxiety is what I call “The Fear of McCain II.”

“McCain II” is my metaphor for a repeat of what happened with the 2008 Republican Presidential Nomination. Though I will always honor John McCain as a true American hero, I don’t believe he was the best candidate the GOP could have put forward as their 2008 Presidential Nominee. But, like many, I voted for McCain in the General Election, not because he was “my guy” but because he was my preference over Obama.

In order to deal with the angst of loyal Republicans due to the possibility of “McCain II”, it only makes sense to develop a strategy to avoid that. Logically, the first step in this development process is to consider how “McCain I” happened. My view is that, in general, this was the result of the GOP doing “business as usual”, from the time candidates started emeging up through the 2008 RNC in St.Paul, MN. By contrast, the Democrat Party and the Obama Campaign recognized that the 2008 political landscape called for anything but “business as usual”. Their “audacious” approach handed the GOP a huge defeat in that year. That, of course, was discouraging for the GOP faithful. What’s more discouraging is that, so far, the Republican Party seems to be taking the same “business as usual” approach in the current political season. For evidence of this, you only need to look as far as the “top candidate” in the current field of Republican presidential hopefuls.

Mitt Romney is, presently, the clear leader amongst the “top candidates.” According to a new Washington Post-ABC News Poll, “Romney also runs ahead of the pack on three crucial attributes: leadership, experience and, perhaps most important, who can beat the president next year.” However, a related report in the Washington Post goes on to say, “Romney’s support is tepid, particularly among the party’s most energized constituency — the strong supporters of the tea party movement.” My belief is that the primary reason that “Romney’s support is tepid” is a fear of “McCain II.” Frankly, I would vote for Romney for President in the 2012 General Election, but it would only be because he would be my preference over Obama, not because he’s “my guy.” Obviously, for me, having this happen would add up to “McCain II.” Fortunately, though Romney is the current “front runner”, there are several other Republican “top candidates” to consider.

Though unannounced, Sarah Palin remains a “top candidate.” The Washington Post report I mentioned also provides a good thumbnail sketch on the outlook for her prospective candidacy. It notes:

“Sarah Palin’s lingering power to shake up the race if she decides to run.” … “the hold that Palin still has on segments of the party faithful despite some long-standing liabilities and deep skepticism among many voters about her qualifications.” … “Palin tops the list as the most empathetic figure. She runs almost even with Romney on the question of who best reflects the party’s core values and on who is most compatible with people on the issues.”

Texas Governor Rick Perry has also been expressing a growing interest in a possible candidacy. Here again, the Washington Post article I mentioned offers a good synopsis of this “top candidate”:

“As the longtime governor of a big state that has produced more jobs than any other state in the country, Perry is seen by some Republicans as a potentially serious threat to Romney. But he is far from a dominant figure in the assessment of rank-and-file Republicans. He attracts the support of 8 percent, with or without Palin in the race, and he is in single digits on all six attributes as well.”

And, as cited earlier, there are numerous other Republican candidates, the least of whom, in the words of the Huffington Post author, have credentials that are “head and shoulders above the qualificat­ions of the incompeten­t guy we now have in the White House.” Although I’m not going to attempt to provide a summary for the candidacy status of each of these individuals, there is another “top candidate” I want to draw attention to in this regard. It’s the candidate mentioned at the outset of this article … the "Republican Candidate" (generic) who, according to the recent Gallup Poll, leads Obama 47% to 39%. Of course, successful campaigning on the part of one of the candidates I’ve named up to now could lead to that person inheriting the poll-leadership of the “generic candidate”. Mostly, though, the present poll-leadership of the “generic candidate” implies that party faithful are hoping there are one or more superior candidates out there who, for now, have chosen not to join in the race.

So, how does this all fit together and what does it tell us about how to avoid “McCain II?” My belief is that all this clearly indicates the necessity for the Republican Party to proactively get behind a candidate now, instead of taking a “business as usual” approach.” One way of doing this is for the party, as an example, to identify the reasons why “Romney’s support is tepid” and if this is a result of perceptions that can honestly be corrected, to work with the candidate to correct them and give him the party’s full support. Of course, this approach could also be applied to Palin’s “long-standing liabilities and deep skepticism among many voters about her qualifications” and with the view of Perry as being “far from a dominant figure in the assessment of rank-and-file Republicans”. If the GOP was to take this approach with all of it’s “top candidates”, an added benefit could be encouraging some of those superior candidates, who have chosen not to be in the race at present, to get in.

I recognize that the idea of the RNC selecting a candidate for the party’s full support at this stage of the game is very naïve and not very practical. But it is just that … an idea ... a suggestion for something different and better than “business as usual.” Without a different and better approach, we’re almost certain to get “McCain II.” So, Republican National Committee, you folks are the professionals to whom we’ve entrusted our party. If you don’t like this idea, please tell us what you have in mind that’s different and better. I don’t care how dissimilar what you have in mind is from the idea I’ve presented. All I care about is that it’s not “business as usual” and please, that it doesn’t give us “McCain II.”


From Mark Mahan via Facebook

Submitted by Gary Wiram on Fri, 2011-07-22 19:27.


+-I'm with you Gary- we need a good, strong Republican candidate to run. Not because we need a Republican in office, but because we need an excellent choice. I'm hoping that the GOP can find the right person.

From funwithknives

Submitted by Gary Wiram on Fri, 2011-07-22 19:44.


+-is apparent here . At least to this Naif. Leave this decision to Fall Convention, 2012 and little time remains for preparations. BHO has the advantage if we allow it.Example: Point/counter-point is coming and Unification is only logical, for concentration of every resource.

“Time ,Waits for NoOne,and It Won’t, Wait for Me…”(or WE)

McCain II

Submitted by Mike Frome (not verified) on Mon, 2011-07-25 07:59.


+-Gary, I largely agree with what you've written here. I've referred to it as "pulling a Dino" - a GOP candidate put forth using the "politics as usual" paradigm...and there are far too many first-time conservative activists who view the GOP very skeptically on the national level especially, vis-a-vis fiscal policy.

think that some of the names with lesser recognition can truly shine on their own merit, if they are not placed in the shade of the Name Brand by the party.

I also personally know several people who have expressed that they will refuse to vote if the choice presented by the system is, in their perception, one branch of "the Left" vs. another. I can empathize with that view, although I believe the stakes are far too high.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Josephine – Right Addition for the Vancouver City Council

This past Friday evening, I attended a campaign kickoff for a candidate who, if you live in the City of Vancouver, deserves your most serious consideration … Josephine Wentzel, Candidate for Vancouver City Council (Position 4).

The Event

The kickoff was exceptionally well done and very well attended. Although Vancouver has been Josephine’s home for close to twenty years, she was born and raised in Guam, thus the theme for the events cuisine was “A Taste of Guam.” I have to say that I thought the food was great, especially the potato salad, prepared personally by the candidate.

The event was held at The Academy, a facility originally opened in 1874, as a girl’s boarding school. Dr. Ricky Lee Jackson served as the Emcee for the evening and he provided the musical entertainment. Of course the music had a patriotic theme, including one of my favorites, The Battle Hymn of the Republic. Several elected officials and other candidates were among the attendees. This included 17th District Representative Paul Harris, who endorses Josephine’s candidacy. He, also, spoke on her behalf at the kickoff.

Some Basics on Josephine

Of course, since Josephine’s Life Priorities seem to be in line with mine – i.e. Faith, Family and Community; I find that appealing. She is boldly Christian and she made that clear in her Kickoff Speech. Since the attendees included her Husband, her children and her grandchildren; the commitment to family (and their commitment to her) was obvious.

Josephine’s commitment to serving her community is what led to her present candidacy. Her political stance is unwaveringly Conservative and naturally, I like that too. She is a long time citizen activist and community volunteer. Recently, she has had significant visibility as Co-Chair for the PAC, the organization aimed at assuring our community doesn’t get saddled with the $10 Billion boondoggle being driven by the tyrannical demeanor of our present City Council. Beyond this, Josephine’s history in community service has included:

- Court appointed Special Advocate

- Advocate for children with learning disabilities

- Trauma intervention prevention volunteer

- Naval Hospital Candy Striper (Vietnam War Era)

- Red Cross volunteer

- Keynote speaker for legal immigration

- Homeless shelter volunteer

- Sunday School Superintendent

- Worker for free adoptions in Washington State.

- Law Enforcement Officer in Guam

Josephine on the Issues

Josephine’s stance regarding the CRC Light Rail Crossing Project has been pretty clear. We can rely on her to work tirelessly to assure that this, the largest public works undertaking in the history of our community, only goes forward as endorsed by the whole community. Of course, there are countless other issues that a City Council-Member must address. The key elements of Josephine’s candidacy define her approach in addressing these matters. These elements are:

Citizen Empowerment – Here, Josephine says, “I want to strengthen the dialogue between citizens and policymakers to foster positive changes in the community.”

Transparency – Josephine’s view on this is, “Negotiations with our tax dollars behind closed doors need to stop.”

Better Business Environment – Josephine presently works as Public Relations Director for US Digital. Her business background positions her to speak to this much more meaningfully than many career politicians who can only address this academically. Her common sense approach here is, “When businesses thrive, jobs abound.”

For me, the most meaningful comment from Josephine’s Kickoff Speech was one of her “off-the-cuff” comments. She said, “Vancouver City needs Honest Representation.” That is precisely what I’m looking for!

The Acid Test

What a politician says and what they do are, disappointingly, often not the same. I’m pleased to say that, in less than 24 hours of her kickoff event, Josephine put her words on “Honest Representation” into action for me. I have an issue that I don’t see as being worthy of being a campaign issue but it’s one that I want to be supported on in fully developing it’s solution and getting it considered by the City Council. Of course, this isn’t the sort of thing to take up a candidate’s time with at a public event but I did mention it to Josephine, saying, “You may not even agree with my position on this issue but I’d appreciate discussing it and working on it with you.” The day after her kickoff, while I was driving from my chiropractor to pick up some burgers to take home for lunch, Josephine phoned me to learn what my issue was and to start discussing it with me. A candidate who says what they mean and who means what they say?! That is also what I’m looking for!

My Closing Comment

One final thing that came out of my “personal issue” related phone call with Josephine that I want to mention. When it comes to elected officials, we agreed that it’s legitimate for compensation to go with an elected position and that it’s OK for a candidate to see a position as part of their political career but that isn’t the job. The job is serving the community. With Josephine Wentzel, I believe you’ll get a person working her hardest to do her level-best to give us Honest Representation in getting that job done. Please check her out at and give her your most serious consideration.

Comment via email from Fred Mostoller

Submitted by Gary Wiram on Sun, 2011-07-17 19:04.


+-Go for it, Josephine ! I sent another message to a friend saying:

Josephine is running for Vancouver City Council. I highly recommend her. You can get an intro on Gary's latest blog. Pass the word !

Friday, July 15, 2011

Kayaking Up the Waialua - An Essential Skill for a Healthy Marriage

A Good Example of the Need

We have quite a few home improvement projects on our "to do" list this summer. Since handyman skills didn't come to me naturally, we often hire the applicable talent for this sort of work. However, several of the items on this summer's list involved landscaping and they seemed to mostly require brute strength so I decided to take them on myself.

Of course, my Wife, Ruth and I agreed to a landscaping game plan before I dove in. One of the main landscaping projects was to use red rock to replace the areas of bark chips that make up a significant portion of the ground cover in our front yard. Additionally, to address some issues that have been developing with two of the three mature Ash trees presently within the bark chip covered areas; we planned to set all three apart with decorative rings, replacing the bark chips with organic compost amended with organic fertilizer.

As I said before, this seemed like a project that required more brute strength than skill. Equipped with a 1/2 ton pickup borrowed from one friend and a wheelbarrow borrowed from another friend, I thought I could complete the job in a couple of days. About three days into the work, I found myself in our front yard continuing to rake and shovel away at four or five layers of bark chips ... I actually ended up removing about six cubic yards. Meanwhile, for those three days, a cubic yard of red rock had been sitting in the bed of the borrowed pickup, parked in front of our house. Unfortunately, there was no place to put the red rock until I finished with the bark chips removal. Also unfortunately, with the pickup full of red rock, I had no way of hauling away the bark chips. Based on my original plan, I thought the volume of bark chips would be low enough that I could dispose of them via one or two of the city's semi-weekly yard debris pick-ups. This meant that I needed to find a place to store the bark chips until I did have the ability to haul them away ... in other words, I got to move the 6 cubic yards of bark chips twice! And even more unfortunately, removing the multiple layers of bark chips was exposing the upper half of major roots of the Ash trees we were striving to save. This meant that I would need to put down about a cubic yard of compost around the trees before putting down the red rock. But, due to the fact that the borrowed pickup was still filled with red rock, I had no way of hauling in the needed compost.

All this meant that, as I continued working away in our front yard, I was wishing I hadn't started this project and that I had a magic wand that would allow me to return our front yard to its beginning state. At that point, my thinking was that our front yard might actually end up looking worse, not better and that I could end up killing the trees we were striving to save. Since Ruth sensed my exasperation, on a regular basis, she was coming to me with "just one more idea meant to help." When she came to me with what (in my mind) was about the "dozenth" of these ideas, she reacted to this resulting in a negative change in my countenance by saying, "Never mind." I responded by saying, "No, I want to hear your suggestion but I want you to know that it would have been most helpful for me to hear these ideas when we were setting the game plan for this project. At this point, they're tending to just add to my frustration." As I said this, I realized, "We're having another 'Kayaking Up the Waialua' experience.”

The "Kayaking Up the Waialua" Experience

Of course, in order for you to understand where this fits in, I need to tell you about our experience "Kayaking Up the Waialua." This came along with our getting to join in Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa - Married Couples Fellowship's inaugural Kauai Retreat. Of course, this was something we had planned for well in advance and that we looked forward to for months.

Fittingly, the first day of this week-long retreat was our Anniversary. So, that evening, we got cleaned up and dressed up (Aloha style) to go out for our Anniversary dinner. Our dinner reservation, based on a recommendation, was at Café Hanalei at the Princeville Hotel, on Kauai’s North shore, at sunset. It turned out to be a magnificent recommendation. I’ve been blessed that I’ve seen some pretty fancy hotels, from Hong Kong to Europe. None of them compare to the architecture of the Princeville Hotel’s lobby. The Café Hanalei overlooks Hanalei Bay – the Hanalei that Peter, Paul and Mary were inspired by for “Puff the Magic Dragon”. The view is spectacular. The Café Hanalei is a bit pricey but it’s one of those superb restaurants where the food makes it seem well worth the price. At the end of the meal, the restaurant brought out a dessert we had not ordered. I can’t describe it but it was wonderful and the plate it was served on said, “Happy Anniversary”, in chocolate. Afterwards, we waddled to our car and drove back to our resort for a good night’s rest.

The main reason for me filling you in on that Anniversary dinner was because it was so dramatically different from the following day's experience, "Kayaking Up the Waialua." The day started with the two of us going out on the beach to watch the sunrise. Afterwards, we went to a continental breakfast provided by the company the church used to book the trip. We left the breakfast at 9 a.m., so that we could meet the Married Couples Fellowship group on the beach for our first time of praise, worship and Bible study. It was wonderful to get together for praise, worship and Bible study in the midst of such a beautiful part of God’s creation. However, that first time on the beach together was a bit abbreviated because a majority of the couples had signed up for a kayaking trip up the Waialua River. That’s where our challenges started.

Before going on, I need to tell you a little about the sun and me. Suffice it to say, I'm an extremely white guy. When I was a kid, my Mom would make me wear a tee shirt when I went swimming and I’d get sunburned through the shirt. So, that means coating myself thoroughly with sun block before spending any significant time in the Hawaiian sun. You should, also, know that both Ruth and I left home with sinus colds so that was our first bit of discomfort that day. And, we had been up since 3 or 4 in the morning, due to the three-hour time difference between Hawaii and California. Additionally, less than a week before our trip, I’d taken a fall while roller blading and I was suffering from some pain in the left part of my chest and back. I think it was a bruised or cracked rib. Even without all these afflictions, we knew the paddling would be strenuous for us, particularly since we hadn't been doing much in terms of upper-body exercise. However, Ruth thought we’d be able to pull up to a bank to rest, have a drink and a snack whenever we got a little tired. Otherwise, we thought we’d be able to enjoy the beauty, take some pictures and end up visiting Waialua Falls and the Fern Grotto. Here’s what really happened:

During the worship on the beach, I realized I’d been too liberal with applying sun block to my face because it was getting in my eyes and nearly blinding me. As soon as worship was over, we went to our room so I could use some eye drops. Fortunately, that helped, though it took most of the next hour for my bloodshot eyes to stop smarting. Then we drove to the kayak rental place to learn that we had to load the kayak and equipment on our rental car, drive to the river, assemble the kayak, get it and us into the river and do the trip without any further assistance. We, also, learned that we hadn’t dressed properly. Although we had swimsuits and aqua socks with us, we thought that shorts and tennis shoes would be proper dress for the trip we had in mind. We were wrong. By 10:30 a.m., we were in the river, wet up to our butts, hot and sweaty, covered with sun block, eyes smarting and heads aching. If that sounds like fun, there were no banks to pull up to due to heavy foliage along the banks; there was no opportunity for picture taking due to the need to constantly row against the current and the fact that all you could see was the water and the heavy foliage along the banks. The need to constantly row really tested our upper-body strength, aggravated my chest pain and gave us both blisters in the fleshy area between thumb and forefinger. The need for teamwork to keep going straight and to not turn over also provided some interesting testing. I'm pleased to say that we seemed to pass that testing, in as much as, unlike several others, our kayak remained upright. We eventually came to a fork, with one way going to the falls and the other going to the grotto. Since people coming the other way warned us not to try to go to the falls due to strong currents, we took the fork to the grotto. Actually, we went past the grotto because it wasn’t marked well but we did make our way back to a place where you could tie up and with a lot of effort, get out of the kayak. We then hiked up a muddy hill to see the Fern Grotto, being visited by group after group of Japanese tourists who had come by tour boat. While doing this, we drank a soda and scarfed down a couple of pieces of fried chicken we’d gotten at a Safeway the night before. It was hard for me to believe that this fried chicken was from the same species as the macadamia nut crusted chicken I’d had the previous night at the Café Hanalei. By the way, there are lots of chickens running around loose on Kauai, as a result of Filipino immigrants bringing in fighting cocks. It’s kind of disconcerting to be eating fried chicken with live chickens running around you. You sort of feel like they’re cheering on the bugs that are biting you. The return trip was pretty much a mirror image of the initial leg except that we were going against the wind instead of going against the current. The one thing I did enjoy seeing on the return trip was schools of mullet jumping over waves. However, the waves were from the wake of huge tour boats (carrying those Japanese tourists) that nearly swamped us. It was between 2:30 and 3:00 p.m. when we got out of the river so the whole adventure had lasted about five hours with about four hours of it being in the river. On the way back to the hotel, Ruth and I agreed that we wanted to do nothing but sit still for awhile before getting cleaned up.

Ongoing Application

No doubt, there were several points during our "Kayaking Up the Waialua" experience when we were having wishes similar to the one I had three days into our recent landscaping project - i.e. wishing I hadn't started this project and that I had a magic wand that would allow me to return our front yard to it's beginning state. But, we survived our "Kayaking Up the Waialua" experience and at Bible study the next morning, we began to have more appreciation for our experience, realizing that everyone had a challenging experience and that it had strengthened our relationships, as a result.

The lessons learned from our "Kayaking Up the Waialua" experience have served us well over the years. Even when you're doing your very best to carry out the game plan you put together as a couple, often life just doesn't go the way you expect. As I noted in the story about our "Kayaking Up the Waialua" experience, "The need for teamwork to keep going straight and to not turn over also provided some interesting testing. I'm pleased to say that we seemed to pass that testing, in as much as, unlike several others, our kayak remained upright." We passed that test because our commitment to each other is to stick together, caring for and depending on each other, regardless of how real life plays out versus our game plan. And that applies even when it's very challenging to do so. A good example here is when, in an attempt to help keep us "going straight and to not turn over" in our kayak, one of us decided to provide some uniformity to our rowing through the cadence of calling out "Right, right. Left, left." but, unfortunately, the cadence being called out was the opposite of the side that person was actually rowing on. Another good example here is when one of us senses exasperation on the part of the other and offers "just one more idea meant to help" but that well-intentioned effort isn’t received gladly. In the first case, we still ended up with a very entertaining story to share about the treasured memory of a trip to Kauai. And, in the second instance, we ended up with the attractive appearance of our front yard causing neighbors to stop by and ask if we were getting ready to sell our home. Moreover, through the lessons learned from our "Kayaking Up the Waialua" experience, as well as from other lessons the Lord has equipped us with to strengthen our relationship, we've been blessed with a marriage that is far richer than we ever imagined.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Unsafe and Insane: When the Loud and Proud Celebration Gets Obnoxious

Five years ago, right at the end of our first year living in Southwest Washington, we had our first experience with something we truly despise about our community ... the legalized hooliganism associated with how Independence Day is celebrated here. Before you start calling me Un-American and chastise me, as a stick-in-the-mud who just wants to spoil other people's fun, let me explain. I am fiercely patriotic. I love the USA and I thrill at celebrating our independence. I, simply, object to being prevented from enjoying the Fourth of July, celebrating it in the manner I choose to, as a result of the overindulgent manner in which others are allowed to do their celebrating in this area.

Ironically, we really enjoyed our first Independence Day celebration here. We were visiting the Portland/Vancouver area, prior to our physical move, in order to rent an apartment, store a car, etc. During this visit, we stayed at one of the major hotels at the airport (PDX). Since we're baseball fans, we decided to spend the evening of the Fourth at PGE Park. At the time that was the home of the AAA Portland Beavers. PGE Park was a great venue for Minor League Baseball and their post-game fireworks were spectacular. On the way back to PDX from PGE Park, we saw a fireworks show in progress on the banks of the Willamette River, in Downtown Portland. And, it turned out that our hotel room provided a great perspective for the fireworks shows going on across the Columbia River, in Washington. We noted countless cars parked and driving along Marine Drive between our hotel and the river. The most impressive show appeared to be the one at Fort Vancouver. At the time, I thought, "What a great way to celebrate the Fourth! I can't imagine any Patriot not being gratified with that celebration." When July 4, 2006, came along, our attitude got turned a full 180 degrees. By then, we were living in the home we had purchased in Hiddenbrook, a nice area in East Vancouver. That change resulted in an Independence Day celebration experience that was completely miserable.

Unmet expectations are often a major contributor to miserable experiences. Naturally, our expectations about celebrating Independence Day were mostly based on our prior experience. That meant what we had experienced living in Southern California and for me, what I'd experienced growing up in Indiana. Living in the Golden State is quite different from living in the Hoosier State but the way that Independence Day is celebrated is fairly similar in both states. The basic experience in Southern California involved taking in a major fireworks display at a public venue like Anaheim Stadium or a civic site such as the beach in Belmont Shore. In addition, there were the "Safe and Sane" fireworks stands that opened up in the days approaching the Fourth of July holiday. At these stands, you could purchase things like firecrackers, sparklers, etc. ... all small ground-level fireworks meant to be set off in a person's yard or a similar setting. Independence Day celebration, living in Vancouver, turned out to be dramatically different from anything we had previously experienced.

The Misery

The way this unfolded for us seemed to start innocently enough. In the days leading up to the Fourth, we started to notice tented fireworks stands being set up all over the place. That seemed "as expected". Our first hint that we might be about to have a different Independence Day experience than we had ever had before came during a visit to our dog's Vet. The Vet asked, "Is Figgins (our dog) going to need sedatives to get him through the Fourth?" Since we had just gotten Figgins less than two months prior to that and we hadn't been through the Vancouver version of the Independence Day celebration, we had no clue regarding the answer to the Vet's question.

Before going on, since Figgins plays a key role in this story, let me tell you a bit about him. He is the Corgi/Pug mix you see in the photo that accompanies this article. We adopted him from the Oregon Humane Society just before his 3rd birthday. He has the run of our home, including doggie-door-access to our back yard and he is very well behaved ... no peeing or pooping indoors, nothing gets chewed or scratched, etc. When Figgins meets someone new, he wiggles and wags his tail, trying his best to get petted. Likewise, when he encounters a new dog, he wags his tail and does all he can to get the other dog to play. OK, I'll admit to extreme prejudice about Figgins and that I tell him he's the world's best puppy dog. Regardless, he is a very good dog.

The next step in our introduction to the Vancouver version of the Independence Day celebration came on the first of the legal dates for fireworks use in the city. Typically, these "legal dates" include several days prior to the Fourth plus the Fourth itself. On those days, fireworks use is allowed from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. (midnight on the Fourth). During the daylight hours of the first of the "legal dates", occasionally, there were some pretty loud fireworks going off. Those got our attention and they caused Figgins to react but, so far, it didn't seem that far out of the scope of our experience. The real difference came with sunset. It was like nothing we had ever known before and it went on until 11:00 p.m. (midnight on the Fourth). Out in the streets, all over our neighborhood, fireworks were being set off continuously. These weren't just firecrackers and cherry bombs (like I'd known, growing up in Indiana). Although those were sort of mixed in with the background the predominant fireworks were aerials that sounded like canon-fire, with many including color-bursts rivaling those I've seen over Anaheim Stadium. What made this an even more unbelievable experience was that there were the equivalent of three major fireworks displays going on right in our neighborhood, surrounding our home ... one to the North, one to the East and one to the South. Later we learned that these were groups of neighbors who had gone together, spending thousands of dollars, to have their own fireworks show on their block. Thankfully, I've never been in a war zone but being in a war zone was the analogy that immediately came to my mind, being encircled by the continuous sound of canon-fire and having the windows on each side of our home brightly lighted (even with the shutters closed) with flash after flash from aerial fireworks explosions. Although this wouldn't have been "our cup of tea" under any circumstances, if we didn't have Figgins, we probably would have barricaded ourselves in the family room with the TV volume turned up as high as we could stand it, as a way to get by. But "the world's best puppy dog" was with us and he was absolutely frantic for every second of the hours of this experience. Although we had gotten sedatives for Figgins, since we had no way of anticipating what was coming, we didn't realize how badly he would need the drugs until the fireworks were fully under way. We did manage to get sedatives into him at that point but they didn't really take effect until the legal fireworks use time had passed.

A Closer Look

Understandably, after going through the experience described above, we determined to see what we could do about it. As I said at the outset of this article, my goal was not to spoil other people's fun. However, I couldn't help but think of a lesson my high school Social Studies Teacher had taught me about independence. He said, "Your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins." In this case, I saw those setting off fireworks as the ones swinging their fist and our household as the ones getting hit in the nose. And, this wasn't just a grazing blow. We had, pretty much, been knocked out of the ring. With this in mind, I set out looking for reasonable solutions.

One solution you may be wondering about is, "Why didn't they just get in the car with their dog and go somewhere else in town until the fireworks were over?" The answer is, "There's no place to go." Vancouver's population is approaching 200,000, Clark County's population is approaching 1/2 million and Portland's population (across the river) is about 3.8 million. The fireworks experience in our (fairly upscale) neighborhood is what you find in almost every neighborhood in the area.

Another solution we have considered is taking a vacation during this time of year. But, that hasn't worked with our schedule so far. And, like all the other solutions I've mentioned here, it doesn't fit with the lesson I learned in high school about independence - i.e. The way others celebrate their independence shouldn't mean that we can't celebrate ours quietly at home, without drugging (poisoning) our dog and trying to find ways to escape the miserable experience. Since none of the solutions I've mentioned up to now seemed reasonable and we didn't want to end up having the one thing "we truly despise about our community" cause us to move away from the area we've chosen as our home, I began to focus on finding a way to make a change in the community that seemed reasonable for everyone involved.

A Reasonable Solution

As desirable as it might seem to me, banning fireworks in Vancouver's neighborhood's doesn't seem like a solution that's "reasonable for everyone involved". However, it did strike me that perhaps this has been tried before. I can't imagine that I'm any place close to being alone in preferring to enjoy fireworks in a public venue while maintaining the ability to enjoy my home quietly. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, there are 1.52 dogs per household in Vancouver or an approximate total of 300,000. Surely, out of this huge group, there are many others trying to cope with the frantic reaction of their dogs to fireworks in their neighborhoods. The Vets themselves are, obviously, aware of the problem. Anyway, I thought that by looking at attempts to ban fireworks, I might find clues to a more reasonable solution.

What I found was that attempts to ban fireworks had, generally, run into two major obstacles: (1) Complacency and (2) Money. With Complacency, there seemed to be two sub-categories: (a) Those who have just grown accustomed to the way things are and (b) Those who want to keep doing what they're doing, with no regard for the impact of their actions on others. Frankly, I didn't see much that could be done, effectively, about Complacency. Money was another matter.

The first comment I remember hearing about money, in this regard, was that the company behind all the fireworks sales in Vancouver "Gives millions of dollars to the city." I don't know if that meant they actually contribute to the city's budget or to elected official's campaigns or another sort of direct contribution to the city. I've never taken the time to investigate. What I have observed, though, is that the company behind fireworks sales makes funds available to groups for doing things like providing volunteer workers at fireworks stands. A good current example involves my own church. Our Youth Group is getting $6000 towards a Mission trip to El Salvador in exchange for staffing a fireworks stand. Although it would be easy to compare this tactic to that of a drug dealer first assuring a user's dependency on drugs, as a career Sales guy, I have an appreciation for the move. And, through redirection, I see it as holding the key to a solution that's "reasonable for everyone involved". Here's what I have in mind:

In order to find a compromise that allows for fireworks continuing in the neighborhoods while avoiding having some homeowners feeling that they're trapped in their homes in the midst of what seems like a war zone, it seems ideal to find a location in neighborhoods that is away from most homes where fireworks enthusiasts could easily gather to fully enjoy their pursuit. In my neighborhood, Fishers Landing Elementary School seems like a great spot for that. And, that seems like a good model for my solution, in general. The reasons for this include:

- Pretty much every neighborhood has a school that has a big open athletic field, ideal for fireworks.

-Neighborhood schools have ample parking and they're within walking distance of neighborhood homes.

- Schools are not in session around Independence Day.

- School systems are in great need of budget help. If the company behind fireworks sales in Vancouver are as altruistic as they want to appear, surely they would be pleased to benefit our local schools while maintaining their sales. They could, also, contribute to our Police and Fire Departments, if public safety is a concern with this.

- Fund-raising opportunities for organizations, like my church, can be maintained and even expanded. Fireworks stands still need workers, school grounds would need clean up after the holiday, etc.

Hopefully, the above suggestion provides enough of a nucleus of a reasonable solution that I can get others to join me, to fully develop and enact my idea. If you have helpful thoughts along these lines, please let me hear them. In the mean time, I would ask that, if you are a neighborhood fireworks enthusiast, please be as considerate as possible towards your neighbors. This year, in Vancouver, fireworks sales began at Noon on June 28th. Legal dates for fireworks use are July 1 & 2 & 3 & 4. That means, for each of those four days our household will be enduring the misery I described above about our first legal date for fireworks usage experience. Additionally, occasional fireworks usage began even before legal fireworks sales started ... leftovers from previous years or fireworks brought in from out of the area, I guess. Furthermore, once legal fireworks sales start, there are those who will choose to ignore that legal use doesn't begin until July 1st. During the daytime of the 29th, while working in my front yard, a neighbor on the cul-de-sac across the street was setting off fireworks he had just bought. That night, we drugged Figgins for the first time of this, yet another miserable Independence Day celebration season in Vancouver, WA.


Take a page from Washougal

Submitted by Jon R (not verified) on Thu, 2011-06-30 11:12.


+-In Washougal fireworks can only be used on the Fourth of July. This restriction has been very successful. Not 100% compliance, but it works. Camas is a mile down the street and they have no restrictions. It is very loud in the evenings.

Comment via Facebook

Submitted by Gary Wiram on Fri, 2011-07-01 03:05.


+-From Rori Homme:

I completely agree with you on this one. Its not safe, its disruptive and has always been hard on my pets.

Comment via email

Submitted by Gary Wiram on Fri, 2011-07-01 03:20.


+-From Mike Boyer:

I am appalled at your attitude about this.


If you don't like the way we Patriots Celebrate our Independence Day Feel free to move back out of the area.
I have to disagree with you.

Submitted by Steven J Nelson (not verified) on Fri, 2011-07-01 11:51.


+-What would John Adams say?

"I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever."

Do like we do. Take your dog to a kennel in the country and enjoy!

I also completely disagree....

Submitted by Nick Smith (not verified) on Sun, 2011-07-03 07:52.


+-1) Move back to California

2) What other freedoms would you like to restrict? Are there too many churches, or should they only get to meet when you decide? Do you not like peaceable public assemblies? Perhaps your ability to even write an article like this should be limited as well? Perhaps you should only have your right against self incrimination available on Tuesdays between 2 and 3.....

3) Move back to California and take your bankrupt approach to governing with you.

4 FYI, I grew up in Vancouver and have never personally purchased any fireworks, yet I would never suggest limiting the freedom of others to do so....

5) Move.

Comment via Facebook

Submitted by Gary Wiram on Sat, 2011-07-09 06:56.


+-From Larry J. Smith:

Nice words!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Tim Leavitt: Vancouver's Omniscient Mayor

Its been nearly three weeks now since Vancouver's Mayor, Tim Leavitt, was a no-show at Bridging The Gaps, an opportunity for voters to be enlightened and to be heard on the topic of the proposed CRC Light Rail Crossing Project … the biggest public works undertaking in the history of the community. Once again, through his absence, Mayor Leavitt showed his unwillingness to listen and respond to the will of the people on this matter. I’ve been disappointed with this ongoing attitude on Leavitt’s part and frankly, I’ve been a bit baffled by it. However, coming away from Bridging The Gaps, I sensed that I was beginning to gain some of the understanding I’d been lacking in this regard. Based on information presented at this event, it appears that there has been little oversight of the CRC Project and that many basic accountability practices have not been followed. That certainly seems like it could hold the key to Mayor Leavitt’s baffling attitude. And, it seemed to be a likely reason why Leavitt and other elected officials who have been supporting the CRC Project avoided attending Bridging The Gaps.

Of course, I hope that elected officials who have been supporting the CRC Project aren’t doing so as a result of corruption. This group has surely exhibited some puzzling behavior though. None more so than that of Tim Leavitt who, when running for Mayor, was opposed to a CRC Project funded by tolls and once he was elected, bought into the CRC Project whole-hog, including tolling. But, the jury is still out as to the reasons behind the puzzling behavior of CRC Project supporters. Perhaps more light will be shed on this topic at the next Bridging The Gaps event being held in conjunction with AFP Washington County (OR) in Beaverton on Monday, June 27th. Details from the announcement I received about this meeting are:

Mon. 6/27, 6-8pm, Beaverton Resource Center - 12500 SW Allen Blvd. - Beaverton, OR: "Bridging the Gaps" Vancouver Forensic Accountant Tiffany Couch, working with legislators in WA & OR, examines where the 130-150 MILLION in taxpayer dollars for the Columbia River Crossing (CRC) has gone, who it has gone to, and for what. Where is the transparency? What does the CRC office have to show for it? A bridge that won't work? Should the brakes be put on this project? Come listen to Tiffany and find out what has been hidden from you.

Although the jury is still out regarding Mayor Leavitt and other CRC Project supporters, in terms of their relationship to the CRC Project’s questionable accounting practices, there is one characteristic of this group that is becoming absolutely clear … they, obviously, believe that they know what is best for their constituency regardless of what the constituency sees as being best for itself. One good indication of this was a pretty sophomoric campaign that Mayor Leavitt, Vancouver City Councilmember Bart Hansen and others were running just prior to the initial Bridging The Gaps event. Basically, this campaign exploited the fact that the Columbia River was at flood-stage and that was necessitating more frequent bridge-lifts of the current I-5 Columbia Crossing. Example Comments from this Facebook campaign included:

Timothy D Leavitt

Well....2:20pm on Tuesday. Traffic on I-5 at a standstill. Choke point? Columbia River Crossing. Wonder how many Moms & Dads are waiting to see their families?!?

Bart Hansen

Guess what? Another bridge lift going on right now. Let's hope it doesn't back up past 39 street this time.

Maybe I'm just an over-sensitive guy or maybe I’m being presumptuous but this seemed like exploitation aimed at pushing forward a $10 Billion boondoggle that I and countless others, are opposed to. Of course, this added to my disappointment with Mayor Leavitt and I hoped to be able to address this with him or City Councilmember Hansen at the initial Bridging The Gaps event. My hope was to get their response to my following comments:- Stop with this.

- Stop the spewing of your related talking points.

- Stop opposing votes on this.

- Instead, do all you can to see that the people are heard.

- Hear what they want with this and what they want to spend on it.

- Then, go do your best to implement THAT plan.

Unfortunately, I never got the opportunity to make my comments to Mayor Leavitt and to get his response. As is evidenced by the photo that accompanies this article, he was unwilling to invest his time on behalf of our community by attending Bridging The Gaps. And the same can be said for Bart Hansen. With that in mind, I want to draw your attention to the woman in the photo who is standing next to Mayor Leavitt’s empty seat. Her name is Josephine Wentzel. Josephine is running for Vancouver City Council, in opposition to Bart Hansen. She wasn’t just present at Bridging The Gaps, she was instrumental in this event taking place. If you’re looking for a candidate who will give their all to assure that the people of Vancouver are truly represented on their City Council and with crucial projects, like the CRC, you should give Josephine your most serious consideration.

Although I never got to address Mayor Leavitt with my views on his juvenile Facebook campaign, not long after the initial Bridging The Gaps event, this matter was dealt with and on a much higher level. In a letter to the C-Tran Board of Directors, Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler stated that she can’t help find federal funding for the CRC Project without a district-wide vote on a proposed sales tax increase to fund light rail. Her stated preference was to see a vote on this in November, or in a February 2012 special election. In further comments, the Congresswoman indicated she feels the C-Tran vote will provide an “accurate gauge” of what Southwest Washington wants and she stated, “My whole focus is on if the people who are going to be asked to pay for the bridge agree with what we’re doing.” Mayor Leavitt’s position on this seemed diametrically opposed to that of U.S. Representative Herrera Beutler. Instead of looking to a vote, as “an ‘accurate gauge’ of what Southwest Washington wants”, Leavitt prefers to look to “multiple local agencies in Oregon and Washington” as “a good barometer”. Specifically addressing Herrera Beutler’s stated position, Leavitt said, “I’m at a loss at this point in understanding why the Congresswoman appears to be saying she doesn’t respect the locally elected officials.” Countering Mayor Leavitt’s comments, Rep. Herrera Beutler said that if local officials are positive there is support for the project, then they should hold a vote quickly, so funding is clearly in place. “Let’s not be afraid of finding out what people want,” she said.

This exchange between Mayor Leavitt and Congresswoman Herrera Beutler most clearly illustrates what I stated earlier – i.e. One characteristic that has become absolutely clear about Leavitt and other CRC Project supporters is that they, obviously, believe they know what is best for their constituency regardless of what the constituency sees as being best for itself. According to a recent interview of Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna, the CRC Project is being driven by four key individuals: the Governors of Oregon and Washington as well as the Mayors of Portland and Vancouver. Those of us living in Southwest Washington must look to the Mayor of Vancouver and the Vancouver City Council to champion our cause in this regard. Our best course of action is to keep speaking up to those who presently hold those offices and if they continue not listening, vote in candidates who will


Columbia River Crossing

Submitted by Rab L Rouser (not verified) on Thu, 2011-06-23 20:17.


+-It seems likely to me that much of the $15 or so million dollars that cannot be accounted for has found its way into somebodys pockets.

I suspect that Mayor Leavitt has changed his tune from NO TOLLS to SPEND AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE because some of those funds are coming his way.

Since he was elected primarily on a NO TOLLS platform does he not owe his constituents a plausible explanation for his change-of-heart on this issue?

If only we could have laws that bind politicians to their campaign promises.